Friday, August 07, 2015

Achieving excellence in Internet Voting

By Sven Heiberg

Celebrating the first anniversary of the Smartmatic-Cybernetica Centre for Excellence for Internet Voting (SCCEIV) represents a perfect opportunity to share some thoughts on how challenging and rewarding this year has been.

From left to right: Marek Pagel, Ivar Smolin, Sander Tiganik, Mike Summers,
Sven Heiberg, Jaanus Jaeger, Tiit Pikma, Joonas Lõmps, Ivo Kubjas
.

We are ten people based in Tartu, Estonia, with our commercial director, Mike Summers, working from London. Many of us were part of the team that built the Estonian internet voting system that has been in use since 2005.

Developing the Estonian solution was a great challenge as we had to find answers to the most pressing concerns any remote voting system presents: guaranteeing the secrecy and integrity of the ballot, securing the vote once stored, authenticating voters efficiently, minimising the possibility of voter coercion, allowing voters to verify their ballot was registered correctly and providing auditing mechanisms.

After ten years of successful deployments and several elections conducted, we feel very happy with results. The Estonian voting system has caught worldwide attention because it has allowed citizens from our country to cast their ballot in 8 national elections. Estonians have used it from at least 105 countries. Such success, and the formation of the SCCEIV a year ago, have renewed our energy.

This energy we invest into taking our internet voting solution another step forward. Our aim is to provide a system that can be adapted for governmental elections anywhere in the world. In our centre of R&D the focus right now is enhancing the transparency of the internet voting.

This year has provided us with many new experiences. The questions that get asked about internet voting from country to country are in many ways different reflecting the diversity of cultural backgrounds and the state of technological development. One thing is sure – the challenge of Internet voting continues to be strengthening transparency, security and reliability while keeping the system friendly and accessible for everyone. Conquering the challenge inspires us to work diligently.



Sven Heiberg, is an employee of Cybernetica, Smartmatic´s partner for the Smartmatic-Cybernetica Centre for Excellence for Internet Voting.